Saturday, May 30, 2009

Jingo All the Way

I feel like the media is trying to fire Cecil Cooper.

The Houston Chronicle's Jerome Solomon and Richard Justice, and 790 AM's Ted DeLuca and John Lopez have been talking about nothing but the firing of Cooper for the last two weeks, speaking of it as though it were a foregone conclusion.

In the last decade or so, sports media has been building to something, that until recently, I did not realize was really starting to bother me. There are no "sports reporters" anymore - they've been replaced by sports editorialists, who are more often than not personalities.

Look at Richard Justice's blog, for instance. At first, I was going to complain about how the blog, which started out as a(n intended) humorous side project between columns had morphed into a blathering irrelevancy that started to bleed into his proper columns, but then I realized that all blogs are basically that, and having a blog as part of your official workload is the problem in the first place. Some editor somewhere (I'm sure Houston is not alone here) decided that the cult of personality was going to be the savior of print media, and started requiring columnists to keep blogs.

Thing is, we don't tune in to sports media for their opinions the way we do entertainment and dining critics. Sports reporting used to be news with a little bit of analysis thrown in. Now it's all - I can't use the word analysis because it seems too lofty for what these guys do - criticism. Non-constructive at that.

Of course, we don't need Sports news the way we used to. We DVR the games so we can see what happened for ourselves, and now even the most casual fan can use the internet to get the latest on Brandon Backe's rehab assignment or the pitching staff at Salem that's supposed to be on the rise. But boy, do we love to discuss it.

So sports personalities help us facilitate that. The good ones (like Charlie Palillo) stand apart from the pack, stating the facts and letting them vent, and when they do offer up an opinion, it's reserved and backed up, and it almost never feeds into the hype. The Chronicle and the Monsters go it the easy way, by picking up a big stick covered in gasoline and sticking it into the embers, igniting a huge fire out of something that was simply meant to keep our feet warm.

This leads me back to where I led off: I'm sure discontent within the organization has led some to question the security of Cecil Cooper's job. But I would bet you dinner at Fogo De Chao that it was far from a foregone conclusion, and that cooler heads might have prevailed before guys like Solomon and DeLuca stuck their big gasoline-soaked sticks into the mess and made it an issue that couldn't be avoided. Now everyone who follows the Houston Astros has been innundated with the nonsense of "Cecil Cooper should be fired" to the point where half or two-thirds of them believe it to be true because this is their sports *news,* after all, and they start clamoring for Coop's head, booing him at home when he comes out to make a pitching change or something. And Drayton McLane, one of the biggest sheep in the flock, hears this, and decides that the manager has to go.

Maybe Cooper needs to be fired. I don't know, and I don't want to discuss it. My beef is with the sports media for creating a situation in which he has to be. They've made themselves a part of the story. It's irresponsible journalism, and I am sorry that it had to end this way for a decent, hard-working guy, a guy who will probably be a lot more forgiving towards his transgressors than I would be.

All for now.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

This Sunday's Breaking Bad Finale

If this doesn't get you watching, nothing else will -

I was also reminded today at lunch of an image that has to make the top ten, but I don't know what I would cut out: Walt smashing the hell out of that paper towel dispenser after he gets the update on his cancer.

Just fantastic. I've been thinking about this show all week!

All for now.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Save Walter White

I've mentioned this a few times already on this page, but if you haven't seen "Breaking Bad," you've got to see "Breaking Bad." If you like your shows about crime and drugs and cops and dealers, and refracted views of money and family and the American idea of success, this is your show.

In tonight's episode, which is one of the most arresting hours of T.V. I've ever watched, Walter's son launches a fundraising website called "Save Walter White," and it's the most poignant damned thing, because every week it gets clearer and clearer that this man cannot be saved. One of the major themes of The Sopranos when it was on is that people can't change, and AMC's two big shows - this and Mad Men, which is brilliant for a variety of other reasons - pick up that mantle and run with it in a big way. If you couldn't get into Tony Soprano because he wasn't identifiable to you, then Walter is the man with which you need to start spending your Sunday nights.

It's a a little premature since the Season 2 finale is next week, but I want to celebrate the show's ability to create moments with a list of my ten favorites from this Season. So, yeah, maybe this will change in seven days, but for now:

10. The cold open with Badger and DJ Qualls
9. Tio and the Burrito
8. Skinny Pete gets robbed by Spooge and the Skank
7. Saul talks his way out of being murdered
6. Hank's Brewery - both scenes
5. Walter, Skyler, and the facial mask
4. Walter shows his baby the money
3. The tortoise explodes
2. Walter confronts the up and coming dealers outside of the home improvement store
1. The last scene with Jane

You let me know if you want to watch this show, and I will watch it with you. Be warned, though - I'll be half watching you to see your reaction.

All for now.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I Need a Sheep

Pete, our Aussie Shepherd/Terrier mix, won't stop herding Rosie, our black lab mix. Whenever he senses I'm about to head upstairs for the night, he goes to get her, and follows her upstairs, nipping at her heels. Moreover, he'll often trap her in the kitchen or a bedroom, and I may not notice until I hear her whining. Then, when I look over, he's standing guard in front of the door, just looking at her.

Pete loves having a job. I've got to think of one for him that doesn't drive Rosie crazy.

All for now.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Keep the Doctor Away

What's that, you say? What's the deal with you and apples? Well, since you asked...

The name Milillo means "Little Apple" in Italian ("mili" - Apple, "illo"- little). When I learned this in May of 2005, I started using "Red Delicious" as a joke monniker, although Red Delicious apples are not known for being particularly large or small, but the cultivar itself is reknowned for being resistant to disease, which becomes important later in its formation around my self-identity.

Apples can be helpful in preventing dementia, lowering cholesterol, decreasing cancer risk in the lungs, colon, and prostate, and eaten regularly, help keep your weight under control (of course, if you eat lots of apples, you're probably less inclined to consume buckets of lard).

Although it was right there in front of my face, I never realized how important apples were in the cultural consiousness. In Norse mythology, they are associated with eternal youth, and in Greek mythology, they are a forbidden fruit. The Judeo-Christian story is likely well-known among this readership.

An apple, according to legend, got Isaac Newton started. Apples are also strongly associated with Louisa May Alcott, whom many of you know I slept with once. Johnny Appleseed (who lived in the area now known as Ohio, which is where you'll find the bulk of the Milillo cultivar) is a key figure in early American folklore, and one of our nation's first animal-rights activits.

After China and the United States, Italy is known as one of the world's leading producers of apples. The name Milillo orginates in Siracusa, a port town on the eastern-most tip of Sicily. Siracusa is where the black death entered Europe. Because our name persists, I find myself bragging baselessley and often about the Milillo's superior immune system (there it is). I enjoy thinking about the original Milillo's as apple farmers, tending their orchards in the hills just beyond the seaside outside of Siracusa, living a simple, peaceful existence. Sure, I know that Sicily carries a stigma, but my people at their core were likely peasant folk. Sure, there may have been the occasional bad one, but don't let them spoil the bunch.

The fruit of knowledge, this vital fruit, this ancient staple of man's diet - it is who I am. Knowing this makes me feel connected to the world, and better about my place in it.

All for now.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Professor Thaddeus Q. Tanqueray's Fantabulous Turd Polish

I've added some sites to the right, but don't get excited. Project These Apples is still less than thrilling.